Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A serious travesty, kindergarten, and a tender heart

Yesterday, my coffeemaker died. Yup. Died. And anyone knows me knows that I cannot function properly until I've had my cuppa in the morning. It was awful. Nothing I could do about it- Starbucks does not exist in the sticks, so I sucked it up and progressed through my day. Then, I was out in the garage looking for something for Zander- when I found my saviour. My little used cappucino/espresso maker. Oh the joy! And I happened to have just bought a nice dark roasted coffee bean. I was singing praises 10 minutes later. So for now I will be having cappucino in the AM instead of coffee. I think I can live with that for a little while

So today I took Abigail to school to meet her kindergarten teacher and take her school supplies. I am not initially impressed with her teacher- but the classroom was very inviting, and Abigail seemed to like it, so I am happy with that. As I understand her teacher has recently had a baby, so today's activities probably signaled an end to her time at home with her baby- and I can completely understand why she may have been a little off today. What I am most disappointed with is that Abigail won't know a single person in her class. :-( That makes me sad for her. I know she makes friends easily, but she has a special attachment to a few of her friends, and I had really been hoping at least one of them would be in class with her. It was very surreal today taking her in. I can't believe that a week from today I will be taking my baby to school. I am going to be so worried about her every day for so long. I know she will love it, but there are so many things that she hasn't been exposed to yet. Although initially I am most concerned about her being hungry all day long at school. She is not a big eater at meal times. She eats until she is full- a great example for those of us who like to overindulge! AND the kindergarteners have kunch at 10:45 am! 10:45! There are days that we don't get around to breakfast until 10:30 or so. I just hope she adjusts quickly- and eats all of her lunch. And yes, I am packing her lunch for her. She can't wait to go tomorrow and pick out a lunch box. At times she can be picky- and I know that the lunch room monitors do not let your child leave food on their tray- so to prevent many many hassles, I will lovingly pack my daughter her lunch every day.

As I am typing this in, I am just glued to the television. My heart is just breaking for all of those people in the south. During our recent trip to Florida, we spent a good deal of time in Alabama- and just enjoyed our time there. It feels so personal now. Andy and I really felt like the people in Alabama were some of the nicest we've ever met. True Southern Hospitality at its finest. Every time they show someone on the news with young children and babies, tears come to my eyes, because I simply cannot imagine what they are going through. As I watched my kids play in the backyard tonight, I was so greatful that they are safe and sound, anad having a good time. Many, many times over the last two days I have wished that we lived closer to the disaster area so that we could help. I would offer to share our home with another family in a heartbeat. These people have lost everything- and we have a garage full of too much stuff. Stuff seems so trivial to me today. I spent a good deal of time online looking for something to do. Right now it seems the best way to help is to donate money, but I think I am going to start a process of packing up some boxes of our "stuff" to send south. We have too many clothes, too many household goods, too many boxes stashed away. Anyway, I have things to do yet tonight while my precious babes sleep, so I will sign off with a plea for prayer for those people who need to be helped yet- may they find peace and rest tonight, and shelter over their heads.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An accomplishment today!

Today I learned how to sew! I got out my machine and got to work learning how to make a poodle skirt. I will say, it was waaaay easier than I had anticipated. The waistband was a little tricky, but I must say, the skirt looks pretty darn good. And of course, it's Abigail's size, so it is adorable as well. I am costuming Bye Bye Birdie this fall- and I've decided that I want to make some of the costumes. One of my goals in life is to learn how to sew really well. Every year I work with the kids at the High School and help them with the costuming. My favorite shows to do are period shows- because the costumes we rent are just gorgeous, and I always wish I could learn how to make them, so this year I started. The late 1950's are pretty easy, but it's a good era to start with. Fun styles and fun fabrics- and very easy lines to sew. :-) I'm going to have to make sure I photograph my creations and share them.

Unfortunately, my sewing adventure prevented me from doing much in the kitchen today. The excitement of the day came at breakfast when I broke out the waffle iron and made Abigail some waffles for breakfast. But, I had been thinking about making some pork tacos. So since I was thining it, I thought I would pretend I had made them and share the recipe here. This is a super simple, super quick recipe, and a surprisingly tasty taco. You can cut back on the chipotle chile powder if you want- I like to use 1/2 tsp. chipotle, and 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder- it makes it a little sweeter. Do make the onion and cilantro relish though- it adds the perfect flavor to the tacos, and they wouldn't be near so good without. This recipe comes from an issue of Cooking Light magazine- summer of 03 sometime I believe. I'm sorry I don't know the exact issue.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Pork and Pineapple Tacos
Serving Size : 4

3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper powder (such as McCormick)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound pork tenderloin -- trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 can pineapple tidbits in juice -- (15 1/4-ounce) undrained
6 flour tortillas -- (6-inch)
3/4 cup salsa verde

Combine onion and cilantro.Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine chipotle powder, chili powder, salt, and pork in a medium bowl. Add pork mixture to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan.
Add pineapple to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in pork mixture; cook 1 minute or until pork is done.
Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 2/3 cup pork mixture down center of each tortilla. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons onion mixture and 2 tablespoons salsa; roll up.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Today is Banana Bread Day

I bought a bunch of bananas last Wednesday, and essentially forgot about them, so I am on a banana bread making spree today. I have found with my banana bread that although it is fabulous fresh- it is even better after it has had the opportunity to sit in the freezer. For some reason the freezing process makes the banana bread super moist and super flavorful. Go figure! Anyway, since tonight's supper is a fabulous rendition on macaroni and cheese out of a box, I thought I should share my banana bread recipe.

It's important when you make banana bread this way to keep the buttermilk and baking soda separate until the last possible minute. When those two combine, they create a chemical reaction that adds leavening to the quick bread. This works quickly- hence the term quick bread. For this reason I mix the dry ingredients together separately from the wet ones. And always make sure to sift your baking soda- there is nothing worse than enjoying a lovely slice of banana bread and hitting a lump of baking soda with your tongue. Blech. Here is my tried and true recipe- and do give the freezing a try- you won't believe how much better it is after it's been in the freezer. I like to have several loaves in the freezer all the time anyway- it makes for a quick addition to a meal when company shows up unexpectedly. Just make sure you double wrap the bread for freshness. I like to wrap it in heavy duty foil and then pop it into a large Ziploc Freezer bag. Make sure you label the bag to prevent UFO's (unidentifiable frozen objects).

Banana Bread

1 stick margarine or butter- room temperature
1 1/4 C. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 C. mashed ripe banana (about 3-4 medium bananas)
1/2 C. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped walnuts (if desired)- occassionally I will add chocolate chips as well

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Grease bottoms only of two loaf pans

3. Combine butter and sugar, mixing well. Add eggs, mis in thoroughly. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.

4. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir well to evenly distribute.

5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. Fold in nuts, if desired. Divide mixture into two loaf pans and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Time will depend on the size of your loaf pans.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Well, yesterday, along with my pie and veggies, I made a double batch of sweet pickle relish. That turned out great- I must say. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of heat the Hungarian Wax peppers add to a few of the jars. Today, in an attempt to do "something" with more of my farmstand produce, I made refrigerator pickles with some overgrown picklers. The first one I made only made one jar- and of course, is from my new acquisition Fresh Every Day.

Mom's Fridge Pickles

Makes about 1 quart

1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBS sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly gound black pepper
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dill seed
4 to 5 small kirby cucumbers, peeled in stripes and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 small white onion, thinly sliced into rounds

1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper flakes, and dill seed in a quart jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Layer the cucumbers and the onions in the jar using a wooden spoon to press them tightly into the jar, shake it well, and refrigerate it at least 4 hours, shaking the jar occassionally to keep the ingredients mixed. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.

Now for the things I did differently. I did not use a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. That seemed like a lot to me- especially since my jar from Penzey's is still pretty new- and quite fresh. So I maybe used 1/4 tsp.- and I think I was right on the mark with that one- a bit of a zip, but not too much. I also did not have dill seed- so I used a little more than a teaspoon of dill weed, and that seemed to work the trick- plus I think the dill weed makes a pretty pickle. I may try the dill seed next time, but I think I will still use the dill weed too. And my final change was not to use small kirby cucumbers. I did use pickling cucumbers- but these were way overgrown, the type used for sunshine pickles. Since the were the diameter of a regular cucumber, I sliced them, and then sliced those slices in half- instead of peeling in stripes. I am certain you could make these with any cucumber. They are a wonderful refrigerator pickle- very good, and an instant hit here. I also made 4 quarts of a different recipe- but those need to sit for at least 24 hours before trying- so I have to wait to report on those ones. They look good- but I goofed on the amounts of cucumber I had, and had to make a double batch of brine. Wouldn't you know it- I look in the fridge now at the jars, and there is a lot of floating vegetables- like, I was probably off by half. Hopefully they will still taste good- but we'll see tomorrow.

Now back to the produce box...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pumpkin Pie, Roasted Vegetables, and No SPAM on my blog please.

Please don't post a spam comment on my blog. I will simply delete it anyway- so save yourself the time and just don't do it. Thank you.

So tonight I tried a new recipe for roasted vegetables from Fresh Every Day. Very good, and very easy to throw together. I've been having fun at the local farmstand, so I threw it together with things I had purchased from there. I chose to do the variation with broccoli- and it was fabulous! I've never roasted broccoli- and quite honestly, didn't think it would be very good- but it surpirsed me. An instant hit, and the possibilities are limitless. I'll post the recipe in a little bit.

The pumpkin pie was fabulous! I am going back to the farmstand to pick up more pie pumpkins. I figure that I can bake them and freeze the pulp in 2 cup containers- just what I need for one pie. I tried a new crust recipe that I am quite pleased with. It is a Flaky Pie Crust- also from Fresh Every Day, but I did add a few teaspoons of sugar to the dough- I like my crust to be on the sweet side. Next time I will add a whole tablespoon though. But the crust was very easy to work with- and extremely flaky and tender- it may become my standby crust. I have another disk of dough in the fridge for apple pie later this weekend. I got my first bags of Paula Red's- and they are sooooo good! Must make apple pie with them. Yum.

Back to the pumpkin pie- the filling recipe was from The Joy Of Cooking. I used the variation of 3 eggs, and other than that, made the recipe as written. Next time, however, I think I will reduce the ginger by half. It was a little overwhelming- and I would like to taste more of the cinnamon. But a must repeat. The texture was amazing. It wasn't quite as thick and heavy as a sweet potatoe pie- but it wasn't as light as the standard custardy pumpkin pies. I really think the homemade puree made the difference here- and I think I will have a hard time going back to canned pumpkin for pies. Anyway, here's the recipes I used- for crust, pie, and vegetables. Enjoy! I am thrilled with my new kitchen, and I am inspired to cook away. There are many more adventures to come.

Roasted Mushrooms with Green Peas and Tomatoes
8 ounces cremini, button, or portobello mushrooms, wioped clean, larger ones cut int pieces
3 cups frozen petite peas (16 oz. bag) rinsed and drained
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes ( I used chopped fresh tomatoes)
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced (I used sweet yellow)
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS melted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (I omitted)
1. Preheat the oven to 400
2. Place the mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, and onion on a large baking sheet with sides. Drizzle the oil and butter, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Spread the vegetables in an even layer and roast for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms are golden brown and the tomatoes soft. Sprinkle with parsley, and additional salt and pepper, and serve warm.
This recipe can also be made with broccoli or green beans, though the beans will take about 5 minutes longer to cook. You can also use this recipe as a base to prepare the vegetables on the grill.
Judy's Flaky Pie Crust
makes 2 9-inch pie crusts
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 TBS vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water, plus 2 to 3 TBS as needed
1 TBS white vinegar
1. Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the shortening and cut in into the flour with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. In a seperate small bowl, beat the egg with the 1/3 cup ice water and vinegar. Pour this into the bowl with the flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until it comes together. Do not mix any more than necessary. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 TBS at a time, until it comes together, but don't add so much water that the dough becomes wet and sticky.
3. Lightly dust your hands and work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and form it into a ball with your hands. Divide the dough ball into two pieces, and flatten each piece into a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.
Pumpkin Pie
1 Flaky Pastry crust
2 to 3 large eggs
2 cups freshly cooked pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups light cream or evaporated milk, or 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp salt.
Preheat oven to 375. Make sure your pumpkin puree is at room temperature.Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in remaining ingredients thoroughly. Warm the pie crust in the oven until it is hot to the touch. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust and bake in the center of the oven until the filling seems set, but quivery- like gelatin-or a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. This could take as little as 40 minutes, or as many as 60- depending on your pumpkin and your oven. Check it every 5 minutes after 40. Let cool completely and refrigerate.

Yeah me!

Hooray! I'm back! We had a horrible snafu with the cable company and moving. Somehow they never got my change address order, and of course didn't have any open appointments for a week. So I spent an entire week without my computer- and without TV. The only thing we could get working was the DVD player- so at least that was something.

I did not realize how attached I was to my blog. :-) Every day I was itching to get on. Hmmm Let's see. In the last week we have moved, celebrated two birthdays, and I have been busy in the kitchen. I am a happy person. In fact, today I canned a double batch of sweet pickle relish. Yum. I added some hot peppers to a few jars too- I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I also made my first pumpkin today. I know. I always associated pumpkin with bread and pie- and never equalized it with squash (which it actually is) . Today at the farmstand, Abigail wanted to get some little pie pumpkins- and it was her idea to make pie with them. Hmmm. I've never made pie with fresh pumpkin. I've never made fresh pumpkin. Pumpkin comes out of cans in my world- or they are used for decorative purposes. Boy, was I missing something. I took two pie pumpkins and split them in half. Then I roasted them at 375 for about an hour, and scraped them out. That's it. I made it sure it was nice and smooth and smushy, and let it cool to make pie. I gotta tell you, that pumpkin is delicious. I still have a small bowl of it sitting on the counter- and I keep strolling over and eating spoonfuls of it- as is. No sugar, so salt, so butter. Plain. I am going to have to get more pumpkins. The pie will be out of the oven soon, and I'm looking forward to THAT! I tried a new crust today, so I will wait to post the recipe until I am sure it is a good pie. :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

If you are in the mood to waste some time...

And have some time to waste (unlike me, who shouldn't right now). Someone on the CL bulletin board shared this site. Very fun, very good for wasting time. Give it a whirl.

And let me know how you do. The darn fan keeps throwing me off- and the best I've gotten is 5.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

And now it's a home!

Today I was able to unpack my cookbooks. It is officially a home now. :-) Of course, having a pantry, my cookbook shelves no longer are needed to hold actual "stuff" so the shelves are looking a little bare. I must do something about that. ;-)
I did get 2 new cookbooks in the mail yesterday. I got The Ultimate Muffin Book by Bruce Weinstein and Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. Both look to be promising books- both on the reading side and the cooking side. I am also excited to learn that Foster's Market is actually in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina. That just cements the idea that we really need to go visit Andy's brother sometime. Probably not anytime soon though...

I also apologize for the lack of posting I imagine to be coming up this week. Our cable gets transferred sometime on Friday- so I will likely not move the computer until then. The problem is going to be that the computer nook is not cable ready- so Andy will have to look into that.

And on a personal note- Mom Waz, if you are checking in here- could you send me an e-mail? I've sent you several in the last 2 weeks, and the last couple have gotten returned. I just want to make sure my computer is behaving. (And make sure I have the right e-mail address). I'm sure we'll talk soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I have a real pantry!

I am just thrilled about this. For the last four years I have "made do" with pantry shelves all over the place. I had pantry shelves in the basement, pantry shelves in the laundry room, and pantry shelves (sort of) in the kitchen. It made it a real challenge to keep an organized kitchen. Today my darling husband took the time to put wrap-around shelving in a closet in my kitchen. I can only imagine that the closet was designed as a coat closet (hence the hangy-bar thingy). But there is a second coat closet off the living room- and we certainly had no need of two coat closets. So hooray for me! I am just itching to move everything in my kitchen over and start organizing. It will be fun to decide what goes where.

Also on the positive side is that we picked out a computer desk. I think. It is small enough for the space- but a little more than just a glorified desk. For now we will use the desk it is on, but I want to put my desk in Abigail's room for her art projects. The computer desk will have to wait a little while though, as the finances are getting tighter than tight. But I am excited about having a computer in my kitchen space. Then again, maybe that's not such a good thing! :-)

I think that's about it for today. I am exhausted. I spent today taping off the woodwork in the bedrooms for layers and layers of paint. I have decided not to paint the ceilings, which may not look right, but that's a lot of ceiling. Tomorrow I may throw together a little meal at our new house. Andy moved the dining room table over- so we'd at least have someplace to eat. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 12, 2005

I figured out the links!

I'm so excited! I figured out how to add links to my blog. I know I am soooo behind the times with that one- but I did it anyways. Be sure and check them out- there is foodie inspiration there to be sure. I will be adding more links- I just wanted to be sure I could get it to work in the first place. While my kitchen is non-functional, perhaps you could visit the other blogs in the meantime. A week and a day from today and I will be making my first real meal. BBQ Ribs, corn on the cob, and a salad most likely- I cannot wait! And maybe an Au Gratin potato as well. Unsure yet how to finish the meal. Until then, it's more food out of a box. Tonight though Andy comes home, so I think I will pull a couple of steaks from the freezer- I think he will appreciate that. Unless he had steaks last night. Hmmm. I guess I better call and find out.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A new look

I think I like this look better. It just looks cleaner. Let me know what you think.

Tonight I made a fabulous dinner for the kids. Mmmm. Nothing can beat Spaghettio's with hot dogs cut up into it. Okay, so maybe a lot of things could beat that, LOL. I did eat a little- but today in a moment of weakness I bought some cheeses, and I threw together a yummy spinach dip for after the kids go to bed. Yeah, hot spinach dip with pita chips- not exactly healthy, but so good, and I really need a "real food fix". Although there was something neat yesterdayu about having a McDonald's meal on my new dining room floor with my kids. They succeeded in properly christening it with ketchup and orange hi-c. So life is grand.

Now back to that spinach dip. I bought some new cheeses for me. I bought a Swiss Gruyere and a Raclette. The gruyere I may have had before- it is a nutty cheese, and is not one you can eat a lot of at a time, but it adds a fabulous flavor to whatever (in this case spinach dip). The raclette....lets just say, yikes. It is a stinky cheese made in France. And stink it does. I did not know it was stinky cheese. My brave self tried it, and surprisingly, it has a mild flavor- but it has a wonderful creaminess, which makes it perfect for fondues and warm spinach dip. I added a hunk of smoked gouda, clove of garlic (chopped, not whole silly!), a package of frozen chopped spinach-well drained, black pepper, smoked paprika, basil, water chestnuts, and Fox Point Seasoning from Penzeys. Oh, and a little sour cream and dijon mustard to bind it all together. Normally I'd use mayo there, but I'm out. I plan on tossing it in the oven a little later and scooping it up with some toasty pita chips. Hmmm. I hope bedtime is coming soon. :-) Ah, and that whine from the other room tells me that, indeed, bedtime is upon the household. Have a nice evening! Now hopefully I can find a few drops of wine here somewhere...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Baking cookies...

So I have decided that a new home needs to be christened by a batch of cookies. There is nothing like the yummy smell of baking crispiness and chocolate to make a home smell like a home. So tonight I am taking the cookie dough for Mocha Truffle Cookies- because I could also use a chocolate fix. :-) I have posted the recipe before- so check out my archives if you want to see it again. Super simple cookies- with melt in your mouth goodness. Yummy. Today is going to be a long day- waiting until 4:00pm tonight. And of course, the kids were up rediculously early, and are immensely crabby. Hooray for me. This morning we are going to go take care of our weekly church cleaning, and then after that...? I'm not sure. There will be a nap involved for Zander, and probably some Nintendo for Abigail. I dunno- maybe I will finish painting the kitchen today. Andy and I worked on it last weekend- and made good progress. We still have to do the backsplash though and behind the fridge. Andy promised he'd do it next weekend, but with getting the house earlier, I want him to be able to use the weekend putting in the necessary shelving in the pantry, closets, and basement. So I will likely finish his work here for him.

So for Zander's bedroom we are going with a transportation theme. Anyone who knows my son knows how much he loves cars, trucks, boats, and most imprtantly- the choo-choo. I think I am set on painting his room green and blue. The bottom half of the wall will be green- top half blue. I would like to find a border to put bewteen, so that I don't have to make the line precise, so that will be a search. Abigail's bedroom we are unsure with yet. Somehow we have to incorporate her treehouse bed, so I had been thinking of doing "The Enchanted Forest" for her. That way we can doll it up with animals, fairies, stars, rainbows, etc. All kinds of fun things. What I'm not sure on is color. I'm leaning towards a purple. Enchanted Forest screams unicorns to me- and unicorns must have purple (it is a rule!). I recently saw a wall treatment where the homeowner took sticky back vinyl and cut out grasses and reeds to make a meadow on a wall. I was thinking that if I could find the vinyl, I might be able to do a similar thing with some trees and clouds. I dunno. first I have to talk Abigail into going to Home Depot to look at paint- and talk her out of whatever her first choice is. :-)

I hope everyone has a nice day!

Monday, August 8, 2005


I get the keys to our new house on Wednesday!!!!!! At 4:00pm central time, I get my new place!!! I cannot wait! I was supposed to get the keys next Monday- and it has been almost painful waiting- but things have come up and we get to move in sooner! Yippee!! To anyone who might read this, I am going to try and have the phone transferred ASAP. I also have my cell- so if you need to get ahold of me, you can call me on that. If you are reading this and you need my cell #- please e-mail me and I will either call you or e-mail you back. I'm not comfy putting my number here on the blog.

SO this will be fun! Now I can stop the actual packing process, and just start moving stuff over. How can you beat that. I just hope that my sister Rachel is getting her place! She is supposed to move in on Wednesday, and I pray for her that she is working everything out and will be able to. It is so exciting to move out into your own apartment- I would hate for her first attempt to go sour. Follow your heart's desire Rachie!

I'll post more soon- in the meantime, there is cleaning to do!!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2005

As promised- blueberry ice cream

This turned out pretty good. I took two recipes that I found and combined them to create my own version. Quite good, if I say so myself. All the blueberry recipes called for straining the blueberry mixture- and I did not do this. I'm sure the results would have been an even creamier ice cream, but this way it had more flavor, and added interest from the blueberry bits scattered throughout. This makes a healthy 2 quarts of ice cream- which is awkward since my maker is a 1 1/2 qt. maker. Usually I can get the canister to push through 2 batches in a row if it's cold enough to start with. So I went through my normal procedure, and halfway through the second freezing, I realize that I don't hear the machine whirring. Dear Zander decided to explore, and it sat for a good 20 minutes or so before I realized what he had done. So my second batch didn't process enough, and I'm sure the finished result will be more like a sorbet than an ice cream. Oh well. Nest time I put the machine up higher.

Blueberry Ice Cream

4 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 TBS water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup 1% milk
3 cups half and half
1 TBS vanilla extract

Combine blueberries, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan ove med. high heat. Stirring frequently, heat to boiling. Let boil for 5 minutes- stirring occasionally. Cool for 15 minutes. Combine cooled blueberries with 1 cup milk. Either blend with an immersion blender, or puree in a blender. At this stage, you may strain the solids if you desire. Mix in the 3 cups of half and half and the vanilla. Chill for at least 8 hours before pouring into the ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturers instructions. Allow to ripen in the freezer for 2-4 hours before serving. Makes 2 quarts blueberry ice cream.

I think the kitchen is officially closed. :-(

Yup. Sorry, I think it has to be that way. On Sunday we are tentatively planning a picninc at the hot air balloon rally, and I am thinking I'll make some Greek chicken salad and the accompaniements. I found the recipe in RR's 30 Minute Meals 2, so at least I know it's simple. But other than that, I think I need to pack some things away. Oh wait, today I want to make some ice cream. I want to pack my ice cream maker- and the canister is in the freezer, so I figured I should defrost by making a batch! I am thinking about making blueberry ice cream. I for sure will make my vanilla base, but I have more fresh blueberries- and I love blueberry frozen yogurt, ice cream has to be better! I just have to decide if I should cook the blueberries into a sauce first (similar to pie filling) or sugar them to release their juices. I will have to look around, I don't recall seeing a blueberry ice cream before- and I hope it's not cause the blueberries get funky or something. I guess I'll post back with my recipe and results.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Ooooooh Blueberry Pudding Heaven!

I did end up making the blueberry pudding cake below. Oh, it was soooo good. It will definitely get a re-play at my house. I think next time I may double the recipe and make it for company. It was so easy, and so good. The only thing I didn't care for was that I made up some freshly whipped cream and added too much sugar. I should have gone with my original intention to whip the cream with a little vanilla and leave it at that. Instead I added sugar, and it really was too sweet. The blueberry pudding definitely was screaming for cream though. And it was good. I must find out who the original poster was and thank them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Extolling the virtues of Vinegar

Never in a million years would I have thought to do this, but- today, on the advice of several online friends, I added vinegar to my laundry. I used it in place of fabric softener. And you know what? It worked great! And my laundry doesn't smell like a pickle! This is truly amazing in my book. A small jug of the good fabric softener runs me about $6.00. I buy a bottle about once a month (sometimes more often, sometimes less) so in the long run, I am paying about $80.00 a year, just to have soft laundry. I used plain old white vinegar, and put it in my downy ball. Total, it's approximately 1/8 cup vinegar. A gallon of vinegar costs $1.00. You do the math. A gallon will probably last 2-3 months. So I went from $80.00 down to less than $10.00- that's a good deal!

Now, to further analyze the aspects of the vinegar, I made sure I washed a little of everything. I am most impressed with the towels of all things. There is nothing worse than climbing out of the shower and wrapping up with a crunchy towel. Yuck. Using the vinegar- and hanging it on the line, my towels are way softer than Downy and the line. When I have a working dryer, I will test it in the dryer- but I am most impressed with the line drying results. My whites are also brighter- not a yellowed, bleached brighter, but a cleaner, whiter brighter. It will be interesting to see how it works in the long run. The bonus is that the vinegar will help keep the washer clean- so when Andy fills it with his gross yucky laundry, I don't have to worry about tossing in a load of whites right after.

Plus, I have a measuring cup of vinegar out for laundry day, and it is also absorbing any stray smells from the laundry room- thus deodorizing the entire room. Neat, huh? I plan to try a couple of other things with vinegar. I am going to use it to scrub down the kitchen stove (inside). I am dreading that task- and am thrilled with the thought of using something non-toxic. Anyway, back to my work. I just had to share my spectacular laundry reults!

Sharing a non-tried recipe

I just have to share this. It sounds so good- and there's blueberries everywhere right now. I really want to make it, I can just see the scoop of cake on my plate with a large dollop of freshly whipped cream. Oh, yum. I may make myself a deal that if I can get everything done today that I want to, I can treat myself. We'll see. I am also debating a trip to a Farmer's Market today. I'm really in the mood...I'm just not sure. This is not one that I've been to before, so I'm not sure about their offerings. I'm sure it will pale in comparison to my usual one, but seeing how I've seriously been lacking the time to get to the one in Appleton, I thought I might try out the one that's just nearby. We'll see. Anyways, here's Blueberry Pudding Cake. Yum.

Blueberry Pudding Cake

Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method--------
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine -- melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

Toss the blueberries with cinnamon and lemon juice; place in a greased 8 inch square baking dish.In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder; stir in milk and butter. Spoon over berries.Combine sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over batter. Slowly pour boiling water over all.Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until cake is golden and tests done.Cool a bit and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.NOTES : Serves closer to 6 at my house!